Every few years there’s an event that can make or break careers, set precedent and alter the business climate for an entire legal practice. For the white-collar bar, the Mueller probe has fit the bill—and then some.
Since it began almost two years ago, Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation has sometimes felt like a full employment program for elite lawyers in the white-collar bar and other related practices. But it has also altered the playing field, with some lawyers leaving their law firms for key roles on Mueller’s team or the defense side, and big names seeing their stars rise and fall over time, including several on the president’s legal team alone.
The American public has become familiar with names such as Marc Kasowitz and Andrew Weissmann that were once known mainly among lawyers, prosecutors and general counsel. And attorneys who manage to successfully guide their clients through the probe could be in demand for the rest of their careers.
Barry Boss, co-chairman of Cozen O’Connor’s white-collar defense and investigations practice, said he thinks there is an old saying that applies to the lawyers with a hand in the Mueller matter: “No publicity is bad publicity, except for an obituary.”
“During most of these events—you look at Watergate, Monica Lewinsky—you can’t tell in the course of the special counsel investigation what the impact is going to be,” Boss said. “I think the book is still to be written about how this is going to impact the white-collar world.”
With Mueller’s long-awaited report now in the hands of U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the work is likely just getting started for many of the attorneys whose clients are either squarely in the special counsel’s sights or even on the periphery. Below are just some of the dozens and dozens of lawyers, limited to the defense side, who have had a piece of the action so far:
• President Donald Trump’s own legal team has been a work in progress from the early days of the probe, with more twists and turns and personalities than there is space to recount here. Emmet Flood, the former White House counsel and former Williams & Connolly partner, is now counseling the president. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is providing legal assistance as well, after leaving Greenberg Traurig to serve the president full time. Kasowitz, co-founder of Kasowitz Benson Torres, has gone to bat for Trump, and John Dowd was in Trump’s corner from June 2017 to March 2018 as well.
• Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for Trump’s 2016 election, has had many lawyers working at his behest, including former Miller & Chevalier partner Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle, Jay Nanvati, Brian Ketcham and Richard Westling. Earlier, Manafort was represented by Reginald Brown of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
• Winston & Strawn’s Abbe David Lowell represents Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
• Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s William Burck represents former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in Mueller matters.
• Lanny Davis has represented Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and a since-disbarred attorney, along with more recent additions Michael Monico and Barry Spevack of Chicago.
• Lawyers for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with Mueller’s probe, include Covington & Burling’s Robert Kelner.
• William Taylor III of Zuckerman Spaeder has represented Greg Craig, former White House counsel to President Barack Obama, for alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act while at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Cooley partner William Schwartz represented ex-Skadden associate Alexander van der Zwaan, who worked with Craig on Ukraine matters and was convicted last year of lying to the special counsel team.
• Former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates turned to Thomas Green of Sidley Austin.
• Michael Hatley, John Pierce, and Christopher LaVigne of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht have represented Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, along with Chicago firm Breen & Pugh.
• Reed Smith’s Eric Dubelier has represented the alleged Russian internet trolls at Concord Management and Consulting as they pleaded not guilty to defrauding the U.S. government.
• Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman’s Mary Mulligan has represented Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.
• Michael Avenatti has represented porn performer Stephanie Clifford, aka “Stormy Daniels,” who received an alleged hush money payment to keep quiet about having a tryst with the president.
• Florida attorneys Bruce Rogow, Robert Buschel and Grant Smith were tapped by Trump ally and adviser Roger Stone.
• Michael Wildes has represented First Lady Melania Trump and her family.
• Barry Pollack of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber has represented WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
• Buckley’s Preston Burton, Benjamin Klubes and Lauren Randell have represented James A. Wolfe, the former U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee staffer who admitted to lying to the FBI. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Mark J. MacDougall has represented the New York Times’ Ali Watkins, Wolfe’s lover and a reporter to whom Wolfe allegedly leaked.